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Heat Therapy for Joint Pain and Stiffness

Causes of Joint Pain and Stiffness

The joints are the body’s hinges and provide us with the mobility necessary for everyday life. There are several types of joints, each of which has its own functions and specific weaknesses. However, joint pain and stiffness is a common complaint. The causes of joint pain and stiffness can be related to a physical illness or condition, traumatic or occupational injury, or due to aging or being overweight.

What are Joints?

Joints are basically where two or more bones join. The human body has hundreds of joints, but the exact number is debated by doctors, because some joints move while others don’t, and some joints are attached to more than one bone in more than one place. The accepted number is around 230, but some say 360. The main types of movable joints are gliding, ball and socket, elbow, hinge, saddle, and spine joints. Each joint is supported by tendons, ligaments, and muscles, all of which can become stressed or injured and result in stiffness or pain.

Physical Injury

One of the most prevalent causes of joint pain and stiffness is actual physical injury to the joint or its support structures. Whether this happens due to a sport accident, a fall, overextension, twisting or impact, the result can be a tear, sprain or strain of the soft tissues that causes pain and stiffness. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive, but they often present simultaneously. Some major joint injuries require surgery, but after that, home therapy can be done with anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and heat packs to manage pain and swelling.

Chronic and Degenerative Conditions

Chronic conditions are constant, often incurable, and are frequently degenerative, meaning the condition worsens with time. Some chronic causes of joint pain and stiffness are osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, and gout. They cause inflammation of the joints and associated structures, rendering movement limited and painful, especially in cold weather. Managing the pain and stiffness is done with medication and applying warm, microwavable wheat bag or heat pad to the affected areas.

Other Causes

Other causes of joint pain and stiffness are medical conditions that don’t necessarily relate directly to the joints themselves. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus can present with symptoms of severe, sustained joint pain and stiffness. Severe communicable diseases such as meningitis, hepatitis, influenza and pneumonia all cause pain and stiffness in the joints, too. While heat packs can help in the case of autoimmune join pain, it is not so effective for communicable diseases, which typically run their course with the aid of medication.

Why and How to Use Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is very effective in reducing pain and increasing mobility in joints. The heat from the packs is absorbed by the joints and connective tissue, allowing blood to circulate more freely and tensed tissues to relax, making movement less restricted and smooth. Warmth also suppresses pain impulses to the brain. Although heat should not be used immediately after an injury, applying a wheat bag or heat pad to stiff aching joints can bring immediate relief from pain. It is inexpensive and easy to use at home or even on the go.

Aching, stiff joints are a curse for millions of Britons, especially in the wintertime. Regardless of whether the causes of joint pain and stiffness are arthritis, injury or other conditions, one of the best ways of dealing with the pain and getting rid of stiffness is by applying heat packs to the joints. Wheat bags and heat pads are convenient home remedies and can dramatically improve a person’s life quality for practically nothing.